Supreme Court Lets Texas Enforce Age Verification for Porn

(Bloomberg) -- The US Supreme Court let Texas continue to impose age-verification requirements on porn sites, rejecting a challenge by an industry-led group that argued the law violates the constitutional rights of adults.

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The order, which came without explanation or any public dissent, leaves in force a measure that has already forced one of the biggest sites, Pornhub, to shut down in Texas. The Free Speech Coalition, a porn industry trade association, led a suit seeking to halt the law while the high court decides whether to hear their appeal.

At least seven other states have recently passed similar laws.

The challengers say the Texas law, which require porn site viewers to provide identification showing that they are 18 or older, will deter adult viewers worried about the risk that their private information will be inadvertently exposed.

The group also argues the law is ineffective because it exempts search engines and social media sites that are replete with sexual material. The law applies to websites if more than a third of their content is deemed harmful to minors.

The New Orleans-based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals let the provision take effect, lifting an injunction a trial judge had imposed. The state started enforcing the act in February.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton urged the Supreme Court to reject the industry request, pointing to past decisions that let states bar the dissemination of pornography to minors.

The Texas law also requires sites to post warnings about the health dangers of pornography. The 5th Circuit put that provision on hold and it isn’t at issue at the Supreme Court.

The case is Free Speech Coalition v. Paxton, 23A925.

(Updates with explanation of case starting in fourth paragraph.)

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